Thoughts on Thrifting - Part 1 - The Stores

Since I am a bit behind and unorganized during the summer, at least this summer anyway, I am foregoing my Beautiful Blogger Best column this week. Believe it or not, watching a six year old every day does not leave me a lot of time for working on the blog. Usually, by the time he goes home in the evening, I do not have any brain cells left to put together dinner, let alone a blog post for the next day. In lieu of that, today I am writing a post on one of my favorite fashion activities, thrifting.

Stocksnap - Matthew Henry

Stocksnap - Matthew Henry

My husband is a detectorist. He owns a metal detector and loves to hunt for treasures buried beneath the ground. His favorite finds are rings, especially gold or silver, but he loves to find any type of ring, even a child's adjustable one. I guess you could call me a "thriftorist". Ha, ha. I made a new word. Just like my husband loves to find treasure, I love to hunt for treasure of the fashionable type in thrift stores.

In my town there are several thrift stores. Savers is the largest and the one I go to every few weeks. I have found they have a large selection of gently used items and their prices are fairly reasonable. They also have frequent sales and rewards programs that motivate a treasure shopper like me to stop in more often. We also have Goodwill, Salvation Army, and a number of others like Plato's Closet, Clothes Mentor and The American Cancer Society thrift shop. There are also a number that I haven't yet checked out. As far as treasure hunting goes, I have plenty to choose from.

When looking for the best stores to treasure hunt in you might want to consider a few thoughts. 

1. Location. Since thrift stores are dependent on their own finds and on donations, finding stores in high trafficked locations will usually yield better used goods. Most of the thrift stores that I shop in are nestled with other retail stores. That being said, you can occasionally find uniques treasures in second hand retailers in out of the way places. 

2. Size. I won't be so bold as to say that the bigger the thrift store the better, but the same reasoning I used for location holds true for size as well. Many of the larger thrift stores give you more options. Savers has everything from furniture and electronics to bedding and shoes. My grandson loves to peruse the toys when we go in there, knowing he will be able to find some little treasure that grandma will buy for him. Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing and unique small thrift stores. My Shop on Rugby Dr., is an example of a small boutique that features used upscale women's clothing and accessories here in Toledo.

3. Organization. This is a huge thing for me....not that I am so organized, but that I like my shopping environment to be. Clothing should be organized by type. For instance, groupings such as long sleeve blouses, skirts, and cardigans, are all helpful as I hunt for treasure. If the store is organized by a broader category, such as long sleeve tops, it will take longer to look through all the tops to find that one button up that I am searching for. It is also helpful when a store organizes their clothing by size, at least by small, medium, large, and so on. 

Another way various stores organize their racks of clothes is by color. I really like this, especially if I go in with a specific color item in mind. That way, I only shop those sections with the colors I am looking for, instead of combing through racks and racks of clothes. While it is true, you have to look for your size in the color you want, it does make shopping for the Pantone series that I do, much easier. 

4. Lighting. I don't know about you, but when I am shopping I like to have a bright environment. I want to be able to see the colors I am looking at, as well as be able to read the tags to check out sizing, materials and washing instructions. I also want to be able to check the item over for tears, stains or deformities. 

On a weekend trip earlier this summer my hubby and I checked out a few thrift stores in the area we went to. The one store was beautifully organized, but the lighting was very dim. While I did find a few things that I bought, I kept wanting to ask a staff person if they could turn on the lights. 

5. Cleanliness. While every thrift store has a bit of a second hand air to it, it doesn't have to look and feel like a dump. Floors should be fairly clean. I've been in thrift stores where I wanted to wash my shoes after I left. Changing rooms should be well attended, meaning the staff is removing clothing left behind and picking up things that were left on the floor. Believe me, people can be very rude when it comes to changing rooms...even at regular, full priced retailers!

Clothing should be clean. That doesn't mean it has been washed. Stores do not have the capacity to wash every item that comes in their donation doors. However, they can be particular about what gets put out on the floor. Find stores that take pride in the pieces of clothing they put out.

It is also helpful if the thrift store has a bathroom. I drink a ton of water and having a bathroom on site means they will get to keep my business. 

Thrifting is a great way to save money, find unique pieces that are just right for you and have fun. I love to thrift with my daughters and my best girlfriend back in New York. Of course it always involves lunch! You can find jewelry, purses, shoes and, of course, clothing for a fraction of the price you will pay at a regular retailer. 

Next week I'll be back with another post on thrifting where I'll talk about how to turn compulsive buying into shopping science. 

Did you like this post? Did you find it helpful? Are you a thrifter? I'd love to have your feedback in the comments section below. 

Have a great weekend!